From Internship to Senior Year

Transitioning back to school was easy for me, but I was extremely busy. I had to cut my internship a couple days short in order to be back for work at Ohio State helping the Early Arrival Program for incoming freshman. On my last day, Wednesday, August 16th, we had our final presentations in our intern project groups. We presented to over 60 people and then had lunch. Afterwards, we took pictures as a group and said our goodbyes.

Finance Interns in North Carolina
My Intern Project Group After Final Presentations

I drove back to the house I was staying in and finished packing and loading my things into my car with the help of my mom and her friend who flew in two nights before. We didn’t get back to Columbus until 11:30 PM that night, and I had to be at work at 8 AM the next morning. I worked the next few days and had one day of break before school started again. I was so busy during the past 3 weeks that I didn’t even have a chance to sit down and watch TV or Netflix. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I felt that I was able to catch up on school work, unpacking, and seeing friends. Thankfully I should not have that tight of a turn around again.

I had a great summer working for Cisco. About halfway through my internship I decided that if I were to receive a full-time offer, I would want it to be at the headquarter office in San Jose, California. I expressed this to my program manager in our weekly check-ins and told her the reasons why I felt this way. Last week I received a call with my offer to work with Cisco and I accepted! I am looking forward to starting my career in Silicon Valley and living in California, which is somewhere I never thought I would end up because it is so far away.

 

Looking back I had some great experiences this summer. I want to share a few funny stories, things I found cool at Cisco, and tips for your internship. I hope you have enjoyed reading!

-On my first day with my finance team I wore a cute new shirt I had bought. Upon getting out of my car, my roommate pointed out that the tag was still on the shirt. This tag was not any tag, it was a thick cardboard tag with a string attaching it to my shirt. We weren’t able to rip it off or get it off with my keys. I went into the break room in the office and couldn’t find any scissors. Then, I went to my desk where my manager introduced me to a guy on the team and I asked them if they knew where scissors were, to which they shook their heads. I explained my tag situation and the guy I just met said he had a pocket knife. So he sawed the tag of, to which I said “nice to meet you”.  Maybe it was embarrassing, but it was funny to us.

-Our office has automatic desks that go up and down to adjust to your height or if you want to stand and work. Our laptops are our computers and we take them home with us every day. We also don’t have assigned desks, though most people sit at the same desks every day. Free coffee and iced coffee became a great perk to have on the long work days when I needed a boost of energy.

-Having a roommate that has to go to work at the same time as you is great. One day my phone was constantly dying for no reason and it decided to die overnight leaving me without an alarm. My roommate knocked on my door five minutes before we were supposed to leave to check if I was up. Without her, who knows when I would have woken up that morning.

-During a Durham Bulls baseball game that all of Cisco finance was invited to, we got souvenir mason jars with our drinks. The game was so hot that we went to find shade, but I realized I forgot my mason jar. I went back to grab it and when I came up the stairs some first years in the rotational program asked what I was doing. I put my cup up to show them while saying I forgot my cup, but as I did that the last bits of my drink splashed out onto my face and shirt. We all laughed so hard, and it started an hour long conversation in which I got to know the first years better.  *If you are underage, never drink alcohol at a company event.

-Keep a running track of what you do and who you talk to during your internship, even down to the small things you think don’t mean anything. This will come in handy if you have an exit interview or an interview with another company. It also helps when you update your resume.

-Cisco has many creativity rooms that are filled with things from a golf putting room, to a TV room, to massage chairs. I definitely wish I took advantage of these more, but I was busy working!

Golf Room
Cabana Room
Lounge in the Cabana Room
Game Room

Cisco’s Intern Events

One of the perks of being an intern includes company provided events. Cisco has not disappointed me with their fun incentives. On our last day of training, we were rewarded with two hours of laser tag at Hard Knocks and concluded with dinner. Interns and those in the finance rotational program were invited as a way to form friendships outside the office and take a load off the office pressures. I did not get home that night until almost ten, but it was worth it because I got to know the people I worked with while doing something fun.

A week after, all finance employees were able to attend a Durham Bull’s baseball game. The game was at one in the afternoon on a Wednesday, so we all left after lunch to head to the game. After about an hour of watching the baseball, we moved to seek shade, because the sun was bearing down on us in ninety degree heat. I ended up talking to the first year employees and managers in the finance rotational program. After another hour we all went home; I was quite relieved to get home early compared to when I work in the office.

Last week we had two events back to back. One afternoon we had a bowling event after lunch that included finance interns, employees in the finance rotational program, and our managers. This event included arcade games, bowling, food and raffles. Sadly I did not win any prizes, but I did get to network with managers of the rotational program that I could potentially work for full time. This event allowed me to be on a team with a VP of Finance, who is the finance leader at the RTP location. I emailed him a few days after the event, saying it was nice to meet him and that I would like to hear more about his position in Treasury. We have a meeting this week to talk more!

The next morning we had a volunteer event at a day care and spent time with special needs and typical peer children. After playing with the kids for a few hours, the interns and some of the people in the finance rotational program went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Then we headed back to work. That afternoon I attended another event in a large conference room with games, snacks and drinks, which included all of the finance department employees. I ended up winning a gift card for having the fastest time in one of the games.

Throughout the internship there are a lot of Speaker Series, along with Lunch and Learns. Some weeks there are as many as three events showcasing important speakers. Being in a technology company, many of these meetings are over WebEx, Cisco’s telepresence platform that is similar to Skype. These talks are usually with Vice Presidents, but sometimes they can be with people higher up. Last week, finance interns in my location had a meeting over WebEx with the CFO, Kelly Kramer. This week Chuck Robbins, the CEO, will speak to all interns and answer questions. These sessions are a great way to learn more about the company leaders and form connections with executives.

Cisco is open to suggestions, as well. I pitched an event to my program manager, and will soon be putting on an event of my own in three weeks!

My Experience With Failure and What I Learned From It

This past Thursday I overcame the biggest hurdle of my summer internship experience. I planned a Seminar on Social Security and managed to get enough seats filled to make the whole experience worthwhile. This task was far from easy; I sent out dozens of e-mails and calls around the city looking for interested parties and was told no time and time again. Nonetheless, success is oftentimes a numbers game and I set the lofty expectation for 20-25 attendees. I managed to get 26. Everything went well and I went to bed that night expecting to write my next blog on the intricacies of my successful seminar project. 6 hours later, disaster would strike and I decided to share my story of catastrophe from the next morning instead.

I was given simple instructions by my boss; we’re going fishing with a client the next morning, meet me at my house at 6 A.M. I’ve never been to his house before, but in the world of GPS phones and MapQuest what could go wrong? I woke up with plenty of time to spare the next morning. I was a little disheartened to see my phone trudging along at 5%, but didn’t think too much about it. I printed out MapQuest directions as an alternative and set off for my bosses with plenty of time to spare.

Sometimes, when life is going well, a construction site comes out of nowhere and flips everything on its back. Well, this literally happened to me about 5 miles from my destination. My directions were all but useless after I emerged from the construction area. I used the remaining 5% of my battery to tell my boss I would be 10 minutes late and scrape up what little sense of direction I could from my phone’s GPS. For the next two hours nothing went right; it was a perfect storm. I couldn’t find my bosses house, no gas station I visited could give me good directions, and I couldn’t for the life of me find a place that would let me use their phone to tell my boss I wouldn’t make it.

I felt overwhelmed with panic at the ensuing events. When I finally got ahold of my boss he was annoyed with me, but surprisingly compassionate. I felt furious with myself for letting him down, and decided to do the next best thing and head into the office to get some work done. The next time I saw my boss I could hardly look him in the eye because I felt so terrible. He was a little disappointed, but I had experienced the biggest failure of my internship and had yet to be shown the door.

I’ve decided that shortcomings tend to stem from one of two avenues; a lapse in judgement or a character flaw. I’m still here today because my boss knows I’m a hard-worker and have a positive attitude. However, I experienced an enormous lapse in judgement this past week. I’ll no doubt pay for this lapse and will be expected to earn back my accountability, but my boss realizes my shortcomings were reparable. After taking time to gain some perspective, I’ve realized that this may not even be the biggest failure I experience in my professional career. There may be times when I let others down or lose money because of an error in judgement. What’s most important is that I can look myself in the mirror and promise I’ll learn from this experience and never make the same mistake again.

 

Overcoming Rejection: My First Experience With Sales

Going into my summer internship I did not realize that sales would be a large component of my work. When I discovered this, I immediately feared the worst; that I had signed up to be a glorified telemarketer for the summer. Luckily those fears were put to bed quickly. Nonetheless, I was expected to dedicate about an hour or two a day to forging relationships with prospective clients. Oftentimes we would send cards in the mail to people my boss had worked with inviting them to a dinner or coffee club. We would discuss events happening in the market and help clarify confusing topics. I loved these events. Greece, China, Oil; there were so many stories in the news that people wanted to talk about. My boss would always begin by explaining that news stations oftentimes emphasize whatever angle will get the most views and in return raise money from advertising. At these meetings there was an opportunity to get information about the world economy without it being diluted by ulterior motives.

Unfortunately, seats would not magically fill themselves with people. After an invitation was sent out to a prospect, it was my duty to follow up and persuade them to attend our events. This horrified me from day one. So many thoughts would flood through my head before each call or visit. “I’m not worthy to bother these people.” “No one is going to listen to me.” I started to mentally defeat myself before each contact. Eventually it got to the point where I would dread these sessions. I knew that I could excel at every other part of my internship, but would be enormously dissatisfied if my sales work wound up being a big failure. I began watching videos, reading articles, and talking to people about my uncertainties and fears. The more I did this, the more perspective I got on things.

The best advice I was given was that this feeling of horror I felt before each contact was like working out a muscle. If I kept on talking to people and forced myself to fake a good attitude, one day it would be seamless. I began perfecting my contacts. I would naturally make inflections where they were warranted. I would shrug off failure and embarrassment as if they were nothing. My success level began to rise dramatically. Eventually, it became a game. I would try to figure out how someone ticks and what was the best way to get them intrigued within the first 10 seconds of talking to them. What began as a black mark on my summer internship had become one of the more rewarding aspects.

With things winding down for the summer I’m really proud of myself for overcoming my fear of sales. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I feel certain that a career that heavily involves sales would not be for me. That being said, I think this experience will prove to be priceless wherever I wind up. The tough thing about sales is a person goes into each conversation with a high chance of failure. I didn’t realize it until this summer, but most of my endeavors are relatively certain to turn out the way I want them to. I feel certain I’ll pass my exams, graduate college, and get a job after school. While I’m very lucky to be able to say this, I’ve learned that only pursuing things that I’m relatively certain of severely limits my possibilities in life.

Whether it’s passing up a job I don’t think I’ll get or avoiding a girl I think is out of my league, I could be missing the most crucial moment of my life because I’m afraid of “no.” One thing I will not miss after this summer is the relentless phone calls and door knocks that I’ve grown accustomed to. That being said,  I will hold with me the lesson I learned. The best things in life may come from something uncertain; all you have to do is ask.

My Internship in Texas: The Trip Down South

 

It’s hard to believe it, but I am currently over a thousand miles away from home, living on my own, and awaiting my first day of my summer internship with a financial institution. I was lucky enough to be one of 193 students nationwide to be selected for their summer financial advising internship. When selected, students can essentially select whichever city they would like to work in, as long as there is a proper mentor within a reasonable radius. Being the rather adventurous and impulsive person that I am, I chose someplace that would be far outside of my comfort zone. This takes me to where I am currently sitting; in an off-campus house, near Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

The 20 hour trip over the course of 2 days took more than a little self-motivation on my part to get through and helped me gain a fair share of stories and experiences. Most notably, I spent the night after my first day of travel at my close friend’s house in St. Louis. This was coincidently the same city as my internship employer’s headquarters. I thought about how neat it would be to stop by and check it out. Furthermore, my boss would surely be pleasantly surprised to see that I am taking such an active interest in the company. I did not, however, consider that my unannounced visit would create a sense of alarm for the company’s hired security.

I walked around the building taking pictures and staring in awe at the breathtaking sight. Eventually, I noticed a security guard staring at me suspiciously so I approached him and said hello. After responding, he put his radio up to his mouth and said “Yeah, I’m with him now.” The internship had yet to start and I already found a way to make a name for myself. He talked to me for some time and it became clear security had become suspicious and he was going to follow up with my mentor later on to make sure that my story was true.

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I can only imagine that my boss will have a good laugh about this on Monday, and perhaps he will be impressed by my active interest in the company. I’ve always been a firm believer that it is wiser to risk embarrassment than to risk regret. I would be lying if I didn’t admit how overwhelmingly nervous I am for this summer, but just like my trip down here, I plan to put myself out there and do my best to succeed.